Tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens

So, you’ve booked a holiday to go to Athens in the summer. This is cool, as our city is busy and vibrant then. However, it can also get hot, very hot! Here are some tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens.

What’s the weather like in Athens in summer?

Summer is by far the most popular time to visit Athens and Greece. This is the only time that many people can take time off work. With that said, you should have an idea of the climate in Athens in summer.

Generally speaking, a 35 C / 95 F temperature is the norm during midday and afternoon. On some days, you should be prepared for temperatures to soar over 40 C / 104 F. This is not to say that every day will be over 40 C, however it’s not uncommon in July and August.

Tips for staying cool in Athens in summer

If this is too hot for you, I strongly suggest avoiding summer, and visiting in spring or autumn instead. The temperatures generally don’t exceed 25 C / 77 F, and are often lower, so it’s definitely more pleasant.

At the same time, Athens is a destination for any time of year. Even though winter days can get rainy and cold, it is still a lot warmer than Northern Europe, Canada and many parts of the US. Sure, it won’t be swimming weather, but it will be less crowded and it will feel more authentic!

Here are my guides on the best time to visit Athens and the best time to visit Greece.

Tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens

If, however, summer is the only time you can visit Athens, here are a few tips to beat the heatwave and stay cool and safe.

Wear light colours and a hat

You probably knew this already, but what you wear can make a huge difference. It’s best to wear light, loose-fitting clothes, and avoid dark colours.

For women, long, flowy dresses are great. Not only are they versatile to wear at any time of the day, but they are also very light to pack.

Men can wear shorts or loose trousers, and light-coloured cotton t-shirts. Avoid synthetic materials that can make you sweat!

Tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens - Wear a hat

Another thing you should consider wearing is a wide-brimmed hat. If you are worried that it might make you look like a tourist, don’t – many Greeks I know wear them, myself included! Besides, not getting a heatstroke is definitely more important. It will definitely make all the difference when you are walking on our picturesque pedestrianized streets.

As for shoes, outdoors sandals are totally recommended – they are light, washable, and provide enough cushioning for our cobbled streets. My favourite brand are Teva sandals.

Take a look at my ultimate guide on what to pack for Greece for more tips!

Consider bringing an umbrella

This may sound far-fetched for most people, but it’s very common in certain Asian countries, so it doesn’t hurt to suggest it. If your party has toddlers, elderly people or people who get tired easily, it doesn’t hurt to bring a small, light-coloured umbrella with you.

Tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens

Don’t carry too much stuff with you

This may sound self-evident, but I am surprised when people walk around with huge daypacks. Sure, if you are a professional photographer, you will want all your gear with you. It’s also normal to pack a few extra things if you have a baby or certain medical conditions.

Tips for staying cool in Athens in summer

For most people though, a small, light backpack or handbag where you can keep your water bottle, some sunscreen and other personal items is more than enough.

While I’m on this subject, I can’t stress enough that it’s important to be wary of your belongings at all times. I’ve never had an issue with pickpockets myself, but it looks like many visitors do. Having your personal items taken away is totally inconvenient, to say the least, so be mindful.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

If you don’t think that you should wear sunscreen in the city, please give it a second thought. Sure, the sun in Greece isn’t as strong as in more tropical places, but you can still get burnt. I’ve learnt the hard way during my many years of walking around Athens and the islands, and I’m Greek!!!

Tip – All pharmacies, cosmetics stores and supermarkets carry many brands of sunscreen, so it’s easy to replace yours if it runs out.

Drink lots and lots of water

Even if you are not used to drinking lots of water, you will probably feel the need for it if you visit Athens in summer! It’s very important to keep a bottle with you at all times, especially if you are not used to our hot weather. For summer days, I suggest that you drink at least two litres of water to keep hydrated.

Unlike many other countries, bottled water is very cheap in Athens. By law, a small 500 ml bottle never costs more than 50 cents, and is even cheaper at supermarkets. A 1.5 litre bottle will cost you around a euro, or 50 cents in most supermarkets.

How to stay cool in summer in Athens

Tap water in Athens is totally fine to drink, and there are even some spots in the city when you can top up your bottle. One of them is at the beginning of Ermou street, close to Syntagma, and there are also fountains up on the Acropolis.

Furthermore, when you stop for a coffee or snack, you can always ask them to refill your bottle. Many of the shops will be happy to oblige, and it makes a difference in all those plastic bottles we use!

Eat light

This might be your biggest challenge, especially if you are one of these people who appreciate Greek food! However, it’s the best thing to do, especially if you are particularly sensitive to heat. Have a salad, juice or light snack during the day, and have your bigger meal in the evening.

Remember to eat light during the day in summer in Athens

Contrary to the general low-sodium advice, add a little more salt than normal to your meal. It will help balance the electrolytes, such as sodium, that can be lost with excessive sweating.

Note that alcoholic drinks are not really a good idea, as your body might not realize that it’s too hot. So consider replacing that cold beer with a glass of water.

If this sensible piece of advice sounds too boring, you can at least drink enough water to keep you hydrated, and maybe have just the one beer instead of four. Or have a look at my extensive article for Greek drinks that you should try once, for non-alcoholic options.

Tips for staying cool in Athens in summer

Plan your day in advance

This is perhaps the most important piece of advice. If you are in Athens during a heatwave, two things makes sense – spend less time in the sun, and do not overstrain yourself! Just take it easy, as a heatstroke is no fun, and you may well need to spend a couple of days in bed. Talking from experience!

How to stay cool in summer in Athens

Obviously, you will want to visit the ancient sites, like the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. Your best bet is to go during the coolest times of the day. You can always visit the Acropolis first thing in the morning – note, however, that this is when most tour groups visit, and it can get quite crowded.

My suggestion is to visit the Acropolis in the evening, preferably around 18.00. Most people won’t spend longer than an hour and a half up on the hill, so you will be able to see everything comfortably. Note that walking up the Acropolis hill can be a challenge for people with mobility problems or the elderly, so put that in the equation.

Tips to stay cool in summer in Athens - Acropolis Museum

As for the hottest part of the day, my best advice is to find air-conditioned places. Whether this is one of the excellent museums in Athens, a restaurant or cafe, or even your hotel room, it’s entirely up to you!

Tips for staying cool in Athens in summer

You can also walk around the shaded markets and sidestreets in Monastiraki and Plaka, go for a stroll in the Botanical Gardens, or just stay by your hotel’s rooftop pool, if there is one. Take a couple of cold showers too!

Head to the beaches near Athens

Athens is located at the heart of the Attica peninsula, which is surrounded by sea. There are dozens of beaches to choose from! Many locals like the South suburbs, and the popular areas of Glyfada and Voula. You can get to some of those beaches on the tram, or by public bus.

Schinias beach close to Athens

I prefer the beaches on the other side of Attica, like Schinias beach in the Marathon area, as they are wilder and less crowded. The only drawback for visitors? It’s not as easy to get there in public transportation.

Cape Sounion Temple of Poseidon

A nice half-day trip from Athens is the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. If you rent your own car to get around, you can combine it with a swim on the way. The beaches of Anavyssos, Legrena or Punta Zeza are quite close.

Final note – Talk to your doctor

If you are taking any medication, especially those for high pressure, anti-histamines, tranquillizers, diuretics etc, it’s important to ask for your doctor’s advice before you leave for your trip to Greece.

How to stay cool in Athens in summer

Similarly, if you have any health conditions such as diabetes, a heart condition, kidney issues etc, make sure you get solid advice from your doctor. This is by no means to scare you, but if you are not normally exposed to high temperatures, it’s important. Safety first!

How to stay cool in Athens – Frequently asked questions

People visiting Athens in summer often ask questions like the following:

Is Athens too hot in August?

The answer depends on what you are used to, but for most people, Athens is too hot in August. Day temperatures are normally around 30-35 C but they can go over 40 C. 

What is there to do in Athens in July?

July is a popular month to be in Athens. All shops, businesses and tourist activities like the Acropolis or the Acropolis Museum are open. However, you should be aware of the high temperatures, and preferably avoid strenuous activities during the hottest time of the day, from 11 am to 5 pm.

What can you do in Greece in the summer?

Summer is a great time to be in Greece, as the weather is warm and dry. Many people prefer to go island hopping, have a beach holiday and enjoy a relaxed vacation. Activities like hiking, trekking or cycling are best enjoyed in spring and autumn.

Does Athens get cold?

Yes! Winters in Athens can get incredibly cold, especially as not all buildings have functioning central heating. Snow is rather rare, but it happens every year or two.

How can I keep myself cool in summer?

The best way to keep cool in summer in Athens is to avoid open-air sightseeing during the hottest part of the day. Wearing loose clothes, a hat and sunscreen also helps. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, and to stay in air-conditioned spaces when you need to.

You might also be interested in: How to plan a trip to Greece.

Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences

Hi! I am Vanessa, and I am an Athenian. I love Athens, but it can really get hot in the summer! I’d love to know if any of these tips for staying cool in the summer in Athens have helped, so please leave a comment below!

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